France Telecom has launched an ADSL service, called Netissimo, for consumers and small businesses, several months ahead of a similar rollout in Britain.
Netissimo 1, aimed at home users, costs 265 francs (£25) per month. The service gives a downstream data rate of 500kb/s and upstream speeds of 128kb/s. The ADSL modem needed to access the service costs 1990 francs (£195) to buy or 45 francs (£4.50) a month to rent. There is also an installation fee of 775 francs (£75).
Netissimo 2 is aimed at small businesses and costs 700 francs (£68) a month. It offers downstream rates of 1000kb/s and upstream data rates of 256kb/s. The modem is included in the monthly fee and installation costs 990 francs (£95).
By comparison, Phase 2 of BT's ADSL rollout is expected to offer access speeds of 512kb/s for £50 a month. The introduction of ADSL is expected to boost Internet use as it includes unlimited connection time for a flat rate, unlike the metered telephone calls currently standard in Europe.
The French service is currently available in the six districts of central Paris and the suburbs of Issy-le-Moulineaux, Neuilly sur Seine and Vanves. Any French ISP can offer the service, as long it has an ADSL gateway.